Mattress Shopping Guide

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We've all heard the story of "The Princess and the Pea." True royalty must be in possession of both a tender back and the ability to shop for the perfect mattress. Most of us have a run-of-the-mill tolerance for peas under our bed, but that doesn't mean that we want to settle for anything less than the perfect mattress. Remember that you spend about one third of your life sleeping, so choosing a mattress that's right for you is essential. When you're ready to invest in a new mattress, there are several things you have to keep in mind.

When To Get Rid Of Your Mattress

If you're like the rest of the US, you've probably had the same mattress for anywhere between six to 10 years. Since our bodies are constantly changing and becoming increasingly in need of sleep support, it is a good practice to swap out your mattress every three years. Buying a mattress is no affordable venture, however, and you want to make sure that you come equipped with the right knowledge. If you know you won't be able to afford a new mattress very often, then investing in a high quality mattress every five to 10 years is essential. Use this mattress shopping guide to learn how to spot the right and wrong mattress for you. 

Questions To Ask When Mattress Shopping

Buying a mattress is no affordable venture, and you want to make sure that you come equipped with the right knowledge. Here are a few questions you should ask when you begin the search:

  • What's Better: Box Spring vs. Memory Foam? Although memory foam mattresses seem to be on the cutting edge of comfort technology, many people wonder if they really offer additional support for the sleeping body. The answer is - yes! A memory foam mattress will contour to your body, providing both comfort and support. Unfortunately, they also tend to shrink and shrivel with age, and are much more expensive than the springy alternative. Box springs aren't your enemy, and can still allow for a pleasant night's sleep if they are made well and replaced regularly. The quality of the brand is key, with lower-end mattress makers often skimping on comfort. These low-end mattresses also tend to lack in support, so make sure you do your research before you shop. See Soft Vs. Firm Matresses.
  • How Much Does A New Mattress Cost? You can find a generic mattress set online for under $300, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't spring for a nicer bed. The average mattress costs a little under $1000. Since it is a good idea to change your mattress every few years, this can get expensive, especially if the whole family is in need of a mattress upgrade. Set a price range that is affordable to you, and do your research. Wait for your local mattress store to have a sale, and watch the paper or online ads for department store bargains and deals.

mattress shopping guide new mattress cost where to buy mattresses

  • Where Is The Best Place To Buy Mattresses? Online Or In-Store? As is usually the case, the internet can offer some great deals on mattress sets. Most sites will even ship for free if the price is right. However, if you are looking for a great deal, it might be a good idea to stick with good, old-fashion, door-to-door shopping. Department stores will often jack up the price of the mattress several hundred dollars over the list price. They will also have a limited selection, and more likely than not, try to sell you some sort of mattress, pillow top, bedding combo. Mattress stores will offer the largest selections of name brand mattresses. They are also notorious for price-busting sales. Keep your eye out for any sort of "yearly sale" or "liquidation". Club stores are your best bet for a great deal, but they have a very limited selection, and you often can't try them out in store.
  • What Size Mattress Should You Buy? Mattresses come in all shapes and sizes, and although some of us may want to sleep in a king-sized, heart-shaped water bed, this might not appeal to everyone. There are three things to consider when selecting a size: the square footage of your bedroom, your favorite sleep position, and whether or not you'll be sharing. If you're a bachelor in a small bedroom with a pension for light tossing and turning, you might want to opt for a full or queen sized bed. King sized and larger should probably be reserved for couples and extra-large bedrooms. Twin beds are traditionally for small children, but are also a safe bet for guest bedrooms. Keep your existing furniture in mind when you're shopping for a mattress, you don't want to limit or crowd your space.

Mattress Shopping Mistakes: What To Avoid

Discount and store-brand mattresses might be easy on your budget, but they won't be easy on your back. When it comes to generic mattresses, avoid memory foam at all cost. Reliable discount memory foam mattresses are few and far between, and before long, you'll end up having to buy an expensive pillow topper, or an entirely new mattress.

Remember that you spend more time lying on your mattress than you spend eating at the dining room table, sitting on your couch, and driving your car. Don't settle for something that won't provide you with a sound night's sleep. We all have the right to act like the princess and the pea from time to time.

Last Updated: March 28, 2012
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About Brock Cooper Brock Cooper is a freelance writer for 

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